For the second time this year, a major public service in the UK, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), has come under public scrutiny for running out-of-date software – specifically, Windows XP. In fact, the BBC reported that as many as 1 in 5 GMP devices are still running XP – an extraordinarily high proportion. Earlier this year, of course, the same outdated OS made the UK’s National Health Service the first standout victim of the devastating WannaCry ransomware attack.
Over the past 20 years, I have worked with hundreds of public sector organizations in both the U.S. and the UK, helping them keep their Windows systems current. I’ve noticed several common challenges faced by the public sector when it comes to this increasingly difficult challenge. (Some are of these challenges are also prevalent in the private sector, but not to the same degree.) In the public sector, main challenges to staying current are typically application compatibility, budgets and skills.